For the past several years, I’ve been on a quest to begin a new career. After being laid off in 2009, I was inspired to make some positive changes in my life, be proactive and transform myself into a more helpful and productive person.
Many of those changes have happened. I’ve become a much more involved and active volunteer. I’ve conquered graduate school and earned my master’s degree in Urban Planning from Virginia Commonwealth University. I’ve helped edit and photograph a book, Discovering Richmond’s Monuments. I’m a husband of a loving wire and a father of two great kids.
I’ve juggled these things while remaining employed as a journalist. With my career move, I’m not trying to leave journalism, so much as ascend to a new career. To step up and beyond what I’ve accomplished as a member of the media.
I’ve found it to be more difficult than I expected to get that first job beyond journalism, a respected but shrinking field of employment. A recent post of “Ten Reasons You Should Hire a Journalist” by The Poynter Institute has helped me articulate the benefits of what I’ve learned the past 23 years.
Please accept this letter of recommendation for the journalist applying for your job opening. I know this is unorthodox — a generic reference letter. But permit me to explain. Thousands of men and women who made journalism their vocation have lost their jobs. For many, telling a community’s stories through words and images is the only career they’ve known.
They didn’t leave their jobs; their jobs left them. Many are still shell-shocked, wondering if potential employers in other fields will place any value on the things they do best.
I also know that journalists may not be comfortable appearing to brag about what they do well; self-esteem can get downsized pretty easily these days.
Their 10 reasons:
1. Journalists will improve the writing, photography or design in your organization.
2. Journalists deliver on deadline.
3. Journalists are multitaskers.
4. Journalists are quick studies.
5. Journalists are critical thinkers.
6. Journalists get answers faster than most.
7. Journalists know how to use the Web.
8. Journalists have a great work ethic.
9. Journalists have a solid moral compass.
10. Journalists are loyal.
I’ll be the first to admit that most journalists are good/great at many things, but not always the best at any one task. The old saying goes “jack of all trades, master of none, though ofttimes better than master of one.”
I can attest, every one of these is accurate from my observations. As it pertains to me, I’d like to add a few more that I’ve developed the past few years.
Honesty. I’ve always had it. I can’t stand lying and I’m not good at it myself. Journalists typically don’t like being lied to and are trained at sniffing out liars.
I’ve got plenty of stored up passion. I’m ready to become an advocate for something meaningful after years of not taking sides in an effort to maintain objectivity.
I’m humble, I’m not afraid to admit that I’m not perfect, but for all the hard work and long hours I’ve put in since 2009, I’ve learned that I cannot do everything myself.
While I wait for that perfect opportunity to come along, I’m going to keep smiling and trying to make the world around me a better place.